Creative nonfiction essays


Normal, IL movie theater

“There will be people who’ll cross the street to avoid you because you’re black,” my mother would tell me when I was younger, in every conversation or argument about race we ever had.

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Night Cycling

Night Cycling

The island was ours; each kissing gate and the kisses inside of them, each water trough, every animal call, root, rock, dock leaf and bunker. Even the moon.

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Gdansk Fever


According to an Ask Jeeves Internet search, Gdansk holds over 300 hotels, not including informal hostels and private “zimmers.” Why so many? I’m glad you asked.

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Meditating with Mabel

We considered Mabel housebroken, but as any good Buddhist—or new dog owner—knows, identity is a construct, subject to change. In other words, accidents happen, especially when no one’s watching.

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If You Think You’re the Best

When I ascended to the den, pliers in hand, to watch the Americans go down in Lillehammer, I knew I didn’t want to go out like them.

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For a While, For the Summer

Coffee mug and press

I want an example, a model for how to live independently, with the smallest bit of indifference and anonymity, without fear, for a while, for the summer.

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The Edith Wharton Inside Me

Edith Wharton

It is rare in my experience that anyone can be both the center and circumference of a circle. How does Edith manage it?

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I Was 16

I was 16 in 1994. I had a crush on a girl at my high school named Stacy. She was two years older — blonde hair, a grunge band on her t-shirt and a constant half-smile on her face — and it goes without saying that she had absolutely no interest in me.

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David Foster Wallace and the Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit

Interviewed by Stacey Schmeidel for the Spring 1999 issue of Amherst Magazine, David Foster Wallace said, “The truth is I don’t think I’ve ever found anything as purely ‘moving’ as the end of The Velveteen Rabbit when I first read it.”

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Whore of Babel

The place in the brain where language sucks meaning can seem like nirvana.

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Daughter off the Cross


It wasn’t until she lied to me that Irene earned my respect.

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Birth of the Cool

Thelonious Monk

I grew up in a wealthy, Westside neighborhood and attended schools dreamt up by former hippies. The city’s racial metaphor for me felt like a pot of soup with a nice, chef salad, something casual and light and accompanied by a glass of iced tea.

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My Beijing

my beijing

Grandpa bought the place for cheap back in the sixties, a Communist blessing. Grandpa did good for high-ranking Reds. Black-and-white photographs of him with the Chairman hang where house guests will look.

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noise written in graffiti

I would have to try even harder to get back the silence, not for my own peace of mind but out of respect for the dead.

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Our Father

Chris Hedges (left) and Christian Bauman's father (right)

Entwined contemplations of author Chris Hedges (War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning) and former ad-man Bruce Bauman, and their respective relationships to this essay’s author (a ne’er-do-well novelist and ex-soldier)…

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